Philippine Situation on Nuclear Power and Anti-Nuke Activities

A Presentation by Merzi Florencia T. Chan
No Nukes Asia Forum (NNAF) 2010
September 18-19, 2010 @National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

Our Victorious Past

Twenty-five years ago, Filipinos braved the ire of a dictator and embarked on a struggle against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant or the BNPP.

The BNPP was a 357 hectare monstrosity erected at Napot Point, Morong Bataan, made by Westinghouse Electric Co., a US company with a questionable safety record, even in the US. Marcos used the 1970fs crisis in oil in the Middle East as reason (however flimsy) for the need to build a nuclear plant in the country.

From the start, it was met by the strong opposition of Filipinos, grounded on the following bases:


The danger posed by the BNPP to the public is real. It sits on a geologically unsafe location that makes it vulnerable to earthquakes, faulting and volcanic eruptions and poses a very high risk to the lives and livelihood of underlying communities and provinces. Also, there is yet to be any effective technology to store or dispose nuclear waste.


The BNPP deal was a showcase of corruption and the vast powers exerted by the Marcos Dictatorship. Westinghouse Electric Co. held a dismal record in safety. Despite this, a contract between Westinghouse Electric Company and the Philippine government through a go-between, Herminio Disini was drawn up. It was a USD 600 Million deal that eventually ballooned to USD 2.3 Billion with at least USD 17 Million believed to be pocketed by the Marcoses and their cronies.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant represented all the ills that befell the Filipinos in two decades of Marcos Dictatorship - a testimony to greed and corruption at the expense of peoplefs interest and safety. And so, while construction of the BNPP was pursued and was in fact, finished by 1984, the BNPP project was eventually scrapped, mainly due to the massive opposition to the Plant.

At the height of the anti-BNPP campaign, the province of Bataan screeched to a halt in what came to be known as Welgang Bayan Laban sa Plantang Nukleyar (Anti-Nuke General Strike) in 1984 and June 18-20, 1985. Thousands took to the streets in a struggle that generated local as well as international support. The Welgang Bayan was instrumental in the final push to mothball the controversial plant. When the Marcos dictatorship was finally toppled, it was shutdown by former President Cory Aquino.

Raising the Dead

In 2008, the Philippine government (under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) through the Senate and Congress and energy agencies such as the Department of Energy (DoE) and National Power Corporation (Napocor) started a series of activities that is set to overturn the gains of the anti-BNPP struggle.

Two bills (Senate Bill No. 2665 authored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and House Bill No. 6300 authored by Rep. Mark Cojuangco) calling for the immediate rehabilitation and operation of the BNPP were filed in both Houses of Congress in 2008. This is the very same BNPP built thirty-five years ago, was proven to be riddled with defects, steeped in corruption and anomaly and shut down due to overwhelming public opposition.

The Senate Bill did not prosper and while HB6300 was supported by majority of members of Congress, the 14th Congress (to which it was filed) failed to pass it before it officially closed in February 2010. The revival of the peoplefs campaign against the BNPP led by the Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement-Network (NFBM-Net) and the negative public opinion on the BNPP that the campaign was able to generate were the major factors in this einitialf gain. eInitialf, because a new bill was again filed in the present 15th Congress, this time sponsored by Mark Cojuangcofs wife (newly-elected representative of their provincef district).

In November 2008, the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) that aims to conduct a feasibility study for the possible recommissioning of the BNPP. In December 2009, Napocor announced that KEPCO has recommended that the BNPP could be rehabilitated.

Both Napocor and the DoE, on their part, have been very vocal about government plans to pursue the nuclear option. "We are seeing now perhaps a period of nuclear renaissance, a lot of countries in the region are going nuclear," said Arroyo Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes. "We anticipate that by 2010, 2011 we will be experiencing a supply gap in our power requirements. Over the long term we have to ensure that we have sustainable, steady, quality, affordable sources of power. And nuclear power provides exactly that. Napocor revealed that the government is already studying the possibility of building future NPPs in some thirteen (13) new sites.

In Luzon:
? Mapalan Point, Morong (Bataan)
? San Juan (Batangas)
? Padre Burgos (Quezon)
? Palicpican, Ternate (Cavite)
? Port Irene/ Matara Point at Rakat Hill (Cagayan)

In Visayas:
? Talusan Point, Sipalay (Negros Occidental)
? Tagbarungis, Inagauan (Palawan)
? Concepcion, Tanabag (Palawan)
? Cansilan Point, Bayawan (Negros Oriental)
? Baluangan, Cawayan (Negros Oriental)

In Mindanao:
? General Santos
? Saranggani
? Piacan Point at Cauit Point , Siocon (Zamboanga del Norte)

A Pro-Nuke New Administration

Following in his motherfs footsteps of mothballing the BNPP, newly-elected President Benigno Aquino said he does not intend to tap the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to solve the impending critical energy supply situation. g(Reviving) BNPP is not an option anymore. Itfs a policy decision on the part of the President that we are not going to open the BNPP because of too much social complexities that have been caused by that and secondly there is this issue on the safety considering the fault line and allh new Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said.

Is a Nuclear-Free Bataan and Philippines possible under the Aquino administration?
Unfortunately NOT! Taking off from the pro-nuke stance of the Arroyo administration, the new administration of President Benigno ePNoyf Aquino, has also expressed renewed interest in using nuclear energy in the country. gThe Philippines may turn to nuclear energy to solve power shortages in our impoverished nation. We are studying the possibility of using nuclear energy as a source of powerh, President Aquino, who took office on June 30, said.

Napocor President Froilan Tampinco disclosed that several Filipinos are already undergoing training on nuclear energy operations. The studies on possible new sites are ongoing. And because of this pronouncement , several big corporations (other than KEPCO), both foreign and local, have immediately expressed interest in investing such as Toshiba Corporation of Japan, which purchased Westinghouse Electric ? the builder of the BNPP; Kansai Electric Power Corporation; Tokyo Electric Power Corporation; and San Miguel Corporation which is owned by the Cojuangco family.

Questionable Benefits

Reviving the BNPP and towing the nuclear option would be a grave disservice to the public at large especially since the claims of the proponents belie the truth:

ENot a Solution to the Power Crisis

We see no reason to revive the BNPP and to go nuclear when data from the Department of Energy show that we are currently generating 4,212 MW in excess of what we need. Also, renewable sources of energy from geothermal, wind and hydro resources have yet to be exhausted. Why make the public pay more for a superfluous and undesirable energy source?

EMore Expensive than Fossil-based plants.

The idea that nuclear energy is etoo cheap to meterf has been proven a fallacy since the first nuclear plant was built. In reality, nuclear power plants end up costlier to maintain and we may find ourselves replacing oil dependency with uranium dependency as we would need to import uranium in order to make our reactors work.
There are no logical reasons to revive the BNPP and adopt a nuclear program, in fact, the reasons for its rejection in the past still stand today. With a nuclear plant in our midst, the public would be in a perpetual state of insecurity.

Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Philippines: Building the Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement Network (NFBM-Net)

The NFBM-Net stemmed from the Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement (NFBM) which was at the forefront of the Filipino peoplefs struggle to oppose the operation of the BNPP in the 80fs ? a shining symbol of the power of a people united by a common goal.

With government moves to revive the BNPP and push for more NPPs, the anti-BNPP veterans and present anti-nuke advocates have again taken the challenge to lead the Nuclear-Free Bataan/Nuclear-Free Phils peoplefs struggle ? a campaign to foil the sinister plot to release the eNuclear Monsterf in Bataan and beyond.

Since its revival in January 2009, the network has laid the foundation for more effective information dissemination, was able to secure the support of local government, the religious (of different denominations) as well as other community-based organizations to further the call of dismantling the BNPP and for a nuclear-free Philippines.

Different forms of protest actions were launched such as petition-signing, protest-centers, streamer-hanging, bell-tolling at a defined time and day, Congress pickets, peace cycling, caravan, anti-nuke concert among others, to make a mark on the public consciousness and exert pressure on government to drop its nuclear option and dismantle the BNPP once and for all. A major event was the successful SALAKBAYAN LABAN SA PLANTANG NUKLEYAR (Caravan-March Against BNPP) which was held on June 20, 2009 to commemorate the Welgang Bayan of 1985 which gathered the participation of around 5,000.

Chapter building is a very important aspect of our campaign. Throughout the duration of campaigning in 2009, NFBM chapters were established in all of the Bataan towns. Regional Secretariats were established in Central Luzon, North Luzon and Cebu. Sectoral networks were likewise formed such as the NFBM-Youth Network. The National Secretariat was eventually formed.

The BNPP and the nuclear option are neither for the public good or gain, thus, the only logical alternative is to oppose them. As the eNuclear Monsterf hovers, the NFBM-Net will keep watch to protect the gains of our victorious past, prevent the resuscitation of the monster, seal its coffin, and bury it forever. Let us say NO TO BNPP! Say NO TO NUKES!